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Facing a lengthy recovery after an injury in a confined space?

If you work in construction, you are more than likely well aware of the dangers you face each time you go to work. Falls from scaffolding, cranes or other heights make up an inordinate number of the injuries attributed to construction work. Other accidents involve collapses of roofs, walls or some other part of a structure. Electrocutions, injuries from falling equipment and improper use of equipment all lead to injuries as well.

What you don't often hear about is injuries suffered in confined spaces. Many jobs require workers to enter into confined spaces that could present deadly hazards. The failure to adhere to proper safety precautions could easily put your life in danger.

Before you go in

Before you or any other worker enters into a confined space, it needs to be properly prepared. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration outlines the following precautions prior to workers entering a confined space:

  • Work sites with confined spaces may require permits.
  • Identify any confined spaces at the site.
  • Evaluate air quality.
  • Test oxygen levels.
  • Identify the presence of stratified atmospheres, toxic substances or flammable substances.
  • Locate entrances and exits to the space.
  • Install proper ventilation in the space.
  • Identify any hazards within the confined space.
  • Take steps to eliminate or otherwise control those hazards.
  • Outline rescue procedures.

All of these steps, and perhaps more depending on the situation, require attention before any worker enters the space. If your employer fails to do so, you have the right to say something. It may be your life at stake.

After you go in

Even after completion of these pre-entry steps, that does not mean that the job of ensuring your safety stops there. Ongoing inspections and monitoring for hazards, especially when it comes to the quality of the air you may breathe, is required.

Continuous communication between you and those outside the space can help keep you safe and alert others if a problem arises. Someone should guard the space to make sure that only those with the proper authorization enter the space as well. Trained rescue personnel should remain on hand in case they're needed. Someone without rescue training could end up making the matter worse. Then there will be two lives at risk.

After an injury

Many of the injuries suffered in these spaces are serious and require a substantial amount of time and medical intervention for recovery. You may require hospitalization, physical therapy and other treatments for your injuries. As a result, you may need help paying for your hospital bills and medical related care. You may also end up losing a significant amount of income during your hospitalization and recovery. You may seek benefits through workers' compensation to cover these needs.

In addition, depending on your circumstances and the extent of your injuries, you may be able to seek other benefits.

Seeking these benefits can cause you frustration and stress if you go it alone. Having a legal advocate on your side could allow you to focus on your recovery knowing that your case is in good hands.

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